New to the forums. Questioning Anglican Australian leadership.

Discussion in 'New Members' started by Callistemon, Aug 29, 2022.

  1. Callistemon

    Callistemon New Member

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    G'day all! I'm sorta new to these forums; long-time lurker, first-time poster, all that stuff.

    My family and I recently moved out of Melbourne, Australia, in to the countryside, in a rather large town called Drouin, in Victoria, Australia. The bishop of our region (Gippsland), Bishop Richard Treloar, is an openly pro-LGBT, pro-same-sex-union advocate. Also, recently, at the synod of Australia, the bishops met and voted in opposition to the clergy and laymen, to bless same-sex-unions. A splinter group of conservative Anglicans recently started their own diocese (with the support of GAFCON) called the "Diocese of The Southern Cross", but they're way on the other side of the country.
    I was born in to an atheist (one wiccan and one agnostic / lapsed catholic) household, but somehow by the Grace of God, was baptised Anglican in my infancy. After marriage and raising my own family, I came to know God, and have been an avid (albeit amateur) evangelist in every thing that I do, since. Having moved a few times, we attended a few different Anglican parishes and churches, but now have settled in Drouin, and I find myself at odds with the church community and leadership here in this diocese. We recently had an event where we were given paper hands to write a message on about what church means to us, and put up on the wall, and let's just say, the notes on those bits of paper read more like something I'd see outside of the pro-socialist Trade's Hall building in Melbourne city. A disturbing majority of the notes said stuff like "Don't listen to other people, be who you want to be", "You are the best person to tell you who you are", etc.. A few of them were openly talking about encouraging homosexuals in to the communion and "Love is Love" was even up there, in rainbow colours.
    I feel ashamed that this is the community that the Anglicans out here in the country have fostered, and I honestly don't want to be a part of it. I've given consideration to joining the local Presbetarian church, though trends in the USA seem to show them also "going woke" over there, so I don't know.
    How do I reconcile my knowledge of scripture and biblical truths, with the sullying of the rare few church communities that still exist outside of the major capital cities in Australia? I can't in good faith say to a gay person that I don't think their lifestyle choice is sinful, just as I couldn't say to a serial killer with a straight face that the bible says God accepts their desire to murder people and that they'll get in heaven no matter what they do. I can't tell people that Jesus died for us and paid our wages of death for sin, without also accepting that we ARE sinners and that we DO have sins to repent from.
    Asking for help and intercessory prayer from my fellow Anglicans here. I've been, and will continue to, also pray directly to God for help with this. I don't know how to discuss this with the fellow Anglicans in Gippsland, as other than the local youth pastor, every other member of the congregation was born before WW2, and has been attending the CoE services for 80 years out of habit, completely forgetting anything about evangelism or talking to people from outside of their faith groups.
     
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  2. Annie Grace

    Annie Grace Active Member

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    I can't really help you except to say that perhaps you do need to look elsewhere if your own parish (and diocese) cause you so much pain. I am a former Roman Catholic who finally couldn't handle the stress of always being out of sync with them, so I became an Anglican. I am also in an Australian regional area, but I happen to love the liberality of my diocese, my bishop and, in particular, my parish. I love the inclusive nature of the whole region. but I can see that someone who is more conservative in their interpretation of the faith could be uncomfortable here.

    Having already left one brand of Christianity for another, I now see such a move as a healthy thing because it causes less stress and (at least for me) has been spiritually enriching. My bishop recently lamented the split off of the 'Diocese of the Southern Cross' - probably because it means division. But I see it as a good thing. Those people who feel the Anglican Church in Australia has let them down can now gather in a place where they feel heard and safe.

    If the shoe were on the other foot, that is if most of the Anglicans in Australia were conservative and the breakaway diocese was the liberal one, I would probably either join that one to feel more at home, or even go looking for another denomination that spoke to me more, such as the Uniting Church.

    I am sure many others will disagree with me because it might sound like 'shopping' for a religion, but I just feel, for me, it is imperative that the social values of my religion are not diametrically opposed to mine.

    Best wishes and 'Go with God!' I hope you find your spiritual home even in your region.
     
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  3. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    A very interesting post and you're very honest about your inner feelings concerning your fellow denomination members.

    When faced with this kind of inner disturbance of peace I look to the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He never derived his sense of God's presence from the group of people he associated with. He got his sense of identity and wellbeing directly from His Heavenly Father. Because he was one with His Father he could associate with sinners without fear of contamination. This enabled him to be salt and light to them, whatever their spiritual condition toward God. Whatever Denomination, with whatever personal 'leadership' and 'company' we find ourselves in locally, it is probably the place God has placed us, for us to do the most to promote God's Kingom on Earth, by being ourselves, as God intends through the sanctification of His Holy Spirit. This is such a personal relationship between us and God that we need have no fear that God will 'lump us in with the sinners we may associate with'. Jesus genuinely fellowshipped with people less righteous than himself. He didn't demand they be sinless. Only that they be grateful to God for His mercy. "God Forgives us our trespasses as we forgive others theirs", that's the deal that's on offer from God, through faith in Jesus Christ Our Lord.

    Not forgive us our trespasses, because we have at last found a church to join, full of righeous people like ourselves. :laugh:

    Jesus never compromised the principles of righeous living he had learned from His Heavenly Father, neither should we. His own integrity was unassailable, right to the end. Also, as importantly though, we should never impose our own understanding, derived from the guidance of the Holy Spirit, upon others, who have so far not received similar guidance. Just pray for them, and yourself to receive more guidance and greater understanding of what God considers 'righteousness' and 'sanctification' to actually be. And continue to work, with them, toward bringing God's Kingdom on Earth, as it is in heaven.
    .
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2022
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  4. Matthew J Taylor

    Matthew J Taylor Member

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    It's worth reaching out and expressing interest to them, as, unlike the Diocese of Sydney, the Diocese of the Southern Cross is intended to be non-geographical.
    It may be a long time before a parish is planted in your area, but the diocesan people will likely know more than any of us on what sort of options you can consider.
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Just remember that "we are not descendants of timid men". Neither you in Australia, nor we in the US, come from those who showed timidity in face of adversity. We civilized continents with our own bare hands. How that applies to the Church is, very simple: do what we're doing in the US, and start inquiring about how to do a church plant. I know the orthodox Anglicans are doing the exact same thing in the UK in the face of even worse odds. Gather a group of people that you can call your church family (or move where they are found). Contact a faithful bishop, get him to airlift you a priest once every 3-6 months for sacraments; conduct Mattins and Evensong with your new church family during the other times. Get your families to hang out, hold cookouts together. The local dying churches would be grateful to lend you their empty building. I know many people who started their own classical schools and homeschooling communes within the church family they formed this way. Etc, and on it goes. This is how the molecules of the church get rebuilt. You are the church, you are the walls of the church.
     
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  6. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I'm afraid your problem poses a challenge all too common in the West. Not just in religion but in all spheres of life people are moving away from being a community to being individuals where everything is about ME. Only I matter and whatever I feel or want is right because it is what I want.

    We seem to be moving more and more away from what God teaches us in the Bible.

    I wish I knew the answer. If I did I wouldn't be here giving to a poor answer but I'd be out there trying to fix things.

    May God give you the strength and the courage to continue on His path.
     
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  7. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    It's pretty tragic to hear this.

    It's a hard problem to solve, but I think rural bishops that sit so clearly on one side of the Anglican spectrum are in many ways failing their flock. I'm in Brisbane, so it's easy for me to find comfort in the comprehensive nature of Anglicanism, because in my diocese it is comprehensive. With no more than 20 minutes of travel you can find a low church evangelical parish, an anglo-catholic high church parish, a conservative church and a liberal inclusive one. When we say all are welcome at God's table we can mean it - conservatives and progressives alike have a home. Some people at my parish do travel a decent distance, because they find the kind of worship we do is most fulfilling to them, but it's still within reason (one train ride, and a peaceful 5 minute walk from the station).

    I can understand how that might not necessarily be the case in a rural community. That you feel unwelcome, and don't want to be a part of your local Anglican community is a serious problem. You need somewhere to go, that is spiritually fulfilling, and brings you closer to God. Your church leaders have a duty to keep you with the flock, lest you find nowhere to go to and stray from faith entirely.

    I don't know much about your bishop or your parish priest, but do you think either of them would be open to talking to you candidly about your concerns? If there are no nearby churches in travelling distance that meet your spiritual needs, a possible solution I can imagine might be to encourage the more conservative parishoners/people that want less politics in their church (I'm sure you're not the only one) to attend a specific service (e.g. the evening service, or maybe the 7:30am service). That service can make a conscious effort to have less of the things that are discomforting to some members of your parish - showing there's certainly a home for you in Anglicanism, and your perspectives are welcome and important. In essence two distinct congregations following different Anglican traditions, within one unified parish church.

    I say less political, because that kind of service would put me off too. I'm pretty economically left in my personal politics, but if my rector spent every Sunday shoving beliefs I agree with down everyone else's throats I'd still be unhappy - because that's not how I interact with my faith. Christian faith shouldn't neglect the world and refuse to improve it, obviously, but it's still about something more important than our worldly experiences. An undue amount of focus on one message, at the expense of another, feels empty. I go to church to be spiritually enriched, not to be told things I want to hear. I imagine there are also a few social progressives in your parish that are unsatisfied even if they agree with the parishes politics.
     
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  8. Annie Grace

    Annie Grace Active Member

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    Good point (I underlined it above). At my parish church we have a Saturday evening service for those who want a less formal liturgy. We do the readings and then discuss them as a group (fairly small one still) before moving on to the Eucharist. It is much less structured and everyone gets a chance to contribute their thoughts about the week's readings. I often attend this service because it feels more intimate, but I alternate with the regular Sunday Mass because I still enjoy the more formal and ritualised liturgy as well, with all its hymns and larger attendance. So yes, maybe approach your priest about having an additional service for those who feel the need.
     
  9. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This battle has been going on for centuries now. It's not so much a battle of "progressives" and "conservatives" in the political sense -- in fact, using the political frame leads to problems (though the overlap of political progressives and theological progressives is comprehensive).

    There are some names you should be familiar with to understand liberal theology: Marcion of Sinope, Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Emmanuel Kant, and Friedrich Schleiermacher.

    Marcion of Sinope was an early Christian theologian who rejected the entirety of the Old Testament (and much of the New Testament) as not being binding upon Christians. Modern progressives have largely adopted this viewpoint to a greater or lesser degree.

    Jean-Jaques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher (and notorious libertine) from the 1700's who is more or less the father of modern "humanist" progressivism.

    Friedrich Schleiermacher imported Rousseau's humanist priciples into Christianity, centering the faith in an internal, experiential model. He rejected any notion of Biblical truth -- to him, "truth" lay not in the text but in how the reader understands the text. The locus of truth is thus relocated into each individual, and becomes relative and positional. Schliermacher is the fountainhead of nearly all modern "progressive Christianity".

    Emmanuel Kant was a German philosopher who was central to the Enlightenment intellectual revolution. His Critique of Pure Reason attempted to carve out a space for religious belief, but did so by subordinating it to modernist intellectual interpretation (of which scientism is the first-order product). The Bible was thus relegated to a flawed human document relating humankind's efforts to understand God rather than the word of God himself.

    Modern liberal Christianity is basically a fusion of the above intellectual strands. Central to all of them is a rejection of sola Scriptura, the foundational belief that the Bible is God's own inerrant Word. And as we see, this battle has been (and is being) waged since Christianity began.

    EDIT: The orthodox Christian response to all of this nonsense is to reject it outright. That should go without saying, but given the tenor of the times, maybe it doesn't.

    *If you're interested in a comprehensive history of liberal Christianity in the USA, you can do worse than the 3-volume series The Making of American Liberal Theology by Gary Dorrien.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2022
  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Callistemon, from one evangelical follower of Jesus Christ to another, I salute you. :cross:

    We have the Bible on our side. What I mean is, the word of God clearly counsels against the "love at all costs" inclusiveness that condones sin. If your rector is not actively correcting the congregants against sin and the condoning of sin, he is being neglectful in that area. If perchance he does not believe that homosexual activity is sinful, then he is in denial of the truth contained in the written word of God.

    In your shoes, I would make an appointment with the rector and discuss this issue in a non-confrontational, low-emotion manner. I'd lay out my beliefs and the scriptural basis for those beliefs, and then listen to his beliefs. This will help you understand whether he is open or closed toward certain aspects of Biblical truth (or whether he is more interested in keeping the parishioners happy than in preaching correction). If you and he can reconcile differences satisfactorily, you may be able to be a positive moral influence in the parish.

    If you remain at loggerheads, it probably is best to look around for a church that is teaching the Bible message more fully (even if this other church is lacking in other areas, as any church we attend requires some compromises of us because no church is perfect and no individual is perfect). But you might also want to reach out to this new group, because it is may be possible for you to help them begin a mission in your community. Lacking a priest, the services would be a morning prayer liturgy instead of Holy Eucharist, but as attendance grows a priest might be dispatched from time to time (or eventually full-time). I believe there is someone on this forum who has experience with beginning a group where he lives here in the US, but I forget exactly who (perhaps he will chime in).
     
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  11. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The biggest problem with world Anglicanism right now is not the congregations, but the clergy. The church is being failed by many of the shepherds who were called to lead it. To "fix" Anglicanism, you'd have to fire at least half the bishops (maybe 75% in North America and England) and a like number of priests. The fish always rots from the head, and that's what's been happening to Anglicans over the past century.

    The rise of parallel Anglican structures with orthodox bishops in charge (ACNA, GAFCON, Diocese of the Southern Cross) is good progress, but the project will the the work of decades. The sick parts of Anglicanism will wither and die (John 15:1-11); the orthodox will live on and bear more fruit.

    And bear in mind that these travails are by no means restricted to Anglicans. Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Dutch Reformed, even Mennonites (!) are encountering the same fractures.